Shenzhou-9 Ushers in Next Phase of China's Manned Space Program
    2012-06-16 19:52:07     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Mao

China is set to conduct the country's first manual space docking in its upcoming Shenzhou-9 mission.

Space engineers say the mission is a milestone for China's space program, which aims to build a space station by 2020.

CRI's Su Yi reports from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Three astronauts, two men and one woman, onboard the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft are due to dock with and then work for two weeks inside the Tiangong-1 space lab that has been in orbit since late last year.

The mission comes nine years after China sent a man into space, and four years after the country conducted a space walk.

China is the third country that has sent a man into space independently.

Chen Shan'guang, commander-in-chief of the astronauts system, says the Shenzhou-9 mission is a milestone.

"The crew will stay in space for more than ten days, which is the longest so far of all the Shenzhou missions. The success of the Shenzhou-9 mission will not only show the progress we've made in manned docking techniques, but also proves that we are able to support a relatively long space flight."

The mission is also expected to help Chinese engineers perfect space life support systems, including psychological support, nutritional needs and leisure activities.

Shenzhou-9 will send into space China's first female astronaut, a trained fighter jet pilot.

Chen says engineers have made several adjustments inside the space vehicle for the woman.

"She will sleep in a separate room, which also provides her with private space to change her clothes and for her hygiene needs. We've also taken female physical functions into consideration when it comes to life support in space."

Chen says the mission will also carry out several medical science experiments.

"We will examine cardiovascular systems, nervous systems, recognition abilities and some other life functions while in zero gravity. It is designed to enrich our knowledge of space medical science and medical support."

Following Shenzhou-9, China is planning to carry out another similar space flight before the end of this year.

For CRI, I'm Su Yi reporting from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

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